My 15-year-old son works well at school and has achieved good results. He is rarely in trouble but recently I have been contacted about inappropriate content he has written on internet sites about the school. I have always encouraged him to be confident in expressing his opinions but am worried about how to deal with this issue so as not to cause personal conflict or for him to distrust the school. Teacher Jake Burnett replies: It's amazing how education has progressed in the last 10 years, and one area which has developed, almost unchecked, is the way in which information and communication technology is now used in teaching and learning. Many schools are proactive in the way this is implemented and often encourage students to actively engage with it in interactive or online ways. Of course this has many positive implications and students find that using a variety of ways to learn like this can really help them to focus on their work. However, there is a down side, especially when it comes to how personal information is made public on the internet. There are many well-known blog and social network sites which are mostly uncensored and provide the opportunity to share points of view in a public forum. School-age students often see these sites as good means to interact with each other and have the sorts of conversations that would normally be private. This is where the real danger lies. It would be worth talking directly with your son about what he has written and why he has written it. You should clarify with him exactly what is appropriate and what is not in a public forum like the one he has used. You should also stress that no school will ever actively 'seek out' material written by students on internet blogs, but that the content may well be stumbled upon. To avoid him feeling that the school is breathing down his neck like 'big brother' you could easily discuss a variety of other scenarios with him which may well help him realise that what he has done is misguided. However, remember teenagers are not always that easily reasoned with. Firstly, you ought to tell him there is nothing wrong with having personal opinions and that freedom of thought is very important. But if he had written his thoughts down on paper in a personal diary, for example, would he want anyone else to read them? And would he come back to these thoughts later and think that what he had said might be impulsive or representative of some strong feelings he might have had at the time? Another scenario you could put to him might be to ask him how he would feel if another member of the school community were to write a blog filled with detrimental and unpleasant comments about him. He may not be immediately convinced but by trying to turn the situation around you are avoiding conflict and helping him to see it from another perspective. If a school were to be made aware of inappropriate or even illegal activity by its students, it is only right that it investigates them. Your son should be reassured that schools always want students to be safe in an environment where they are not treated unfairly or may come to any harm. Take an active interest in what your son is producing on his computer and how it is helping him to learn. Positive reinforcement and clear parental guidance should help you to be reassured and him not to regard this incident as overly detrimental in his relationship with either his school or with you.